1. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    How to portray flirting

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheApprentice, Apr 18, 2016.

    I want my main protagonist to be a bit of a womanizer and charming. Problem is, I don't really know myself how to be this kind of person, so I have no clue how to portray this or make my character like this.

    I think back to Evil Dead and Ash, how he just says "Gimme some sugar baby" and the ladies swoon. Clearly, the writers wanted to make him smooth with women, had the same problem I have here, and decided to just have him says some random shit and make the girls fall for him anyway. This is just cheezy, though, and I wouldn't want to look too obvious if I took this route.

    What can I do to make my character a major playa?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm afraid that my reply will be discouraging: If you're not comfortable writing this character, it might be wiser to change the character. Why does he need to be this way--what plot needs does it fulfill? Can those needs be fulfilled some other way?
     
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  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    It's really all about their personality I would think. That's the tool that makes their attractiveness more potent. It's almost manipulation, it kind of is manipulation. The key part is charisma. Your lady-killer is going to have a certain smooth energy to him, probably. At least from what I gather in my naivety, they are usually slick. They should be someone people find entertaining and powerful. If you really feel like you can't portray it, find other examples, real and fictional, to get a sense of what this type is like. But it depends a little. You can have your own twists on it, and obviously your character is their own unique man. As long as it's believable that someway or another women would want to sleep with them.
     
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  4. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    @ChickenFreak Its not the plot. Its the character. This is the main character. Party loving, womanizing, violent anti-hero that my bleak cosmic horror story needs. Him being smooth is a big deal or he is not my character.

    I mean, in the scene I am stuck on he gets rejected anyway. There will be other scenes that I am sure I can work around without having to portray smooth talk. I want to ensure he doesn't sound liek a chump when he IS flirting though.

    Here is what I have wrote. It may be cringe inducing.

    “Scuse me a moment.” John told Sam, before walking over to a girl on the opposite side of the boat, who appeared antisocial with her raven hair falling in front of her face and her head down staring at her phone. In fact, she appeared almost upset.

    “Hey,” John opened “Excitements all up here. Besides, don’t bury your pretty face in your phone.”

    John was smiling his charming smile. It typically won over most of the girls. That and his confidence. Some would call it arrogance. Whatever anyone called him, he didn’t really care.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, then, I think that he'll have to actually be smooth. Ash is not a workable role model--he's a parody. Or if you do want over-the-top, parody flirting, then the whole work is also going to have to be comedy/parody.

    I'm trying to think of a partying/womanizing character that isn't a parody, and I'm failing.
     
  6. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    You could always try reading some romance novels and see how other writers portray it.
    From what I've noticed in books and movies, a smooth charming character is given good straight lines to play off of. The sort that rarely happen in real life but they can be well done in fiction.
    Keep in mind that the difference between a charming man and a creepy one generally depends on if the woman is sexually attracted to him to begin with.
     
  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCasanova.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCharmer.

    There's a whole bunch of serious examples.
     
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  8. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    There are a few different dynamics that could apply here. Is it equal exchange, each party out for casual sex with no strings attached? Does he find people who're looking for love, make them think he loves them, and dump them once he's secured his "prize"? Is he a predator who makes use of drugs or force? Is he involved with one person at a time, or does he have more than one, and do the people he's involved with know about each other? Consider not just the MC, but the various folks "womanized" and what they get (or fail to get) out of the relationship.
     
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  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Well, sort of, there are some things that are creepy no matter who says them. There's still a degree of restraint, even in the most lascivious predator. Even bad boys can't be complete dickheads.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Yeah, what he does will be affected by who he's targeting. Different people will like different things.
     
  11. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Your example seems at least okay to me. That's at least on the right track.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. The ones that wouldn't make me roll my eyes from that list are:

    - Captain Jack Harkness from Dr. Who and Torchwood. TheApprentice, I think that this is the best role model here. He doesn't approach women (and men, and aliens; absolutely any kind of adult sentient creature) from a position of arrogance, but from a position of extreme appreciation of the other person.
    - Don Draper from Mad Men is the closest to convincingly resembling an actual human being.
    - I agree that for some reason, Patrick from Coupling isn't repulsive. It's hard to figure out why. I refer to the British Coupling; there was a terrible US remake.
    - Hawkeye Pierce from MASH, yes, OK.
    - Sloane from Grey's Anatomy--I never found him attractive, but I wouldn't be dumbfounded if someone else did.
    - Speaking of, and adding my own, I did find Jack Klugman in Quincy very attractive, and I'd put him in the Casanova-esque catagory. Go ahead, be dumbfounded.
     
  13. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    He does one night stands and casual sex. He doesn't really care if the girl wants more than that.
    He is not a predator/rapist however.
     
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  14. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Looking at pictures of this Quincy character, I'm not that surprised. He's like 55-60 or something in that show, but he's clearly handsome, and he's supposed to be strong-willed and charismatic, so I imagine he could have been a real ladykiller when he was younger.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Returning to Jack Harkness:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYSij6houls
    ("Captain Jack Harkness flirts with...everyone.")
    It's actually not as good as it could be, but it'll give you an idea.

    Edited to add: In this one, he's occasionally (rarely) not-flirting.

    //www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2KuwlMiYj0
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
  16. Sifunkle
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    If we're talking womanizers (by which I assume you mean they're mostly interested in sex and likely to 'love 'em and leave 'em'), my mind jumps to two character types to take as starting points (obviously you choose when to break from moulds as you sculpt your own unique character though).

    The first (and going from your excerpt, probably what you're aiming at here) I'd call the Pickup Artist. Supreme confidence, very upfront with obvious compliments and/or direct requests (possibly breaking all sorts of usual social proprieties in doing so), not hiding that they're just after physical contact and unlikely to commit to relationships, etc. A big feature I think is that they just 'cast a wide net' and will rapidly abandon any thread that isn't playing out because there will be greener pastures elsewhere. So such a character may not actually "win over most of the girls", but racks up a fair number of conquests through sheer volume of attempts.

    The other type maybe you'd call a Seducer? Maybe not as overtly confident or likely to stand out in their approach to flirting, and perhaps more likely to disguise the fact that they're just after sex without commitment. Would probably choose their targets more carefully than the Pickup Artist (may still have a few on the go at once though), and probably wouldn't give up quite as readily.

    Physical attractiveness will be a big asset to either's pursuits, and either can easily appear creepy. Creepiness is subjective though. Many readers may consider them creepy outright if they personally reject the 'sex without love & commitment' thing. However, if the character is respectful of boundaries and mindful not to make women uncomfortable with his pursuits, readers may not necessarily find him creepy. It might help if he's shown to act similarly (prone to confidence, giving out compliments, etc) even when he's obviously not after a sexual target - seems less deceitful this way.

    Just my thoughts :)
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yay! My insanity quotient is reduced!
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're over-thinking it. Bond doesn't do that much. The girls just flock to him anyway. The truth is, the more a man is seen as valued by females, the more other females value him as well. It sounds stupid, but just look at bands like One Direction, or the Beatles.

    Therefore, if girls just happen to sleep with your character, it's most likely not going to seem so unbelievable to the reader- it's going to seem like that guy just "has it." Countless movies, shows, and novels, have gotten away with this. I've never seen Evil Dead, but I know that's supposed to be a campy movie, and therefore would not use it as an example.


    That being said, I just read your excerpt of the womanizer in question, and I don't like it.
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To clarify issues with this: It's controlling. He's commanding where her attention should be. ("Excitement's all up here.") Then he's ordering her how to move. ("Don't bury your pretty face in your phone.")

    The word "pretty" doesn't excuse a person giving orders to another person. Yes, I realize they're just phrased as orders, and it's not as if he's ordering her to fetch him a martini, but phrasing something as an order is still not an appealing behavior. I know that there's a stereotype that women love to be ordered around by men, but...no. A man I don't know tries to give me orders, I look for the police.
     
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  20. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    Can you please tell me how I can improve it?
     
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  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    First, he's excusing himself to another guy, which makes him come off as weak. Second, there's no sort of sexual implications between them, like a stare or a touch or body movement. Third, I think the first half of his opening is rather weak, and doesn't jibe at all with the second half (about the phone), which just makes him seem like a major asshole.

    Look, I'm not saying any of those things can't work in the right context, but as written, and combined, I don't think they work. I just don't buy it that this guy is good with women.


    If he was just a rude drunk guy with his buddies, and made the phone comment to a girl in passing, not really caring about her, either way, and then wound up going home with her, I'd buy it. If he was just a friendly nice guy, (permitting the scuse me and the hey) and he got to know her in the context of pseudo friendship, and they wound up going home, I'd buy it.

    Instead, we see a guy deliberately approaching a girl with the intent of picking her up, but the lines come off weak. He's trying too hard, and doing a poor job of it. That's not confident. That's fake. It's not sexy.

    It would make your work easier if you could establish eye contact between them before he approaches her. If you don't want to do that, I'd suggest he touches her army gently for just a second, and then makes a CHARMING remark to her, not an asshole one.
     
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  22. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can always cheat a little bit and instead of trying to come up with witty and charming one-liners, just stick with a simple "hey" or "how's it going" and indirectly show his charisma by how receptive people are to his advances and how easily he can maintain the flow of a conversation.
     
  23. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I am more comfortable writing this type of character, since I myself have read books on how to be a seducer and had some practice and success on quite a few women now. It's true that the smooth lines in fiction work more in fiction than in real life. But in real life, it's more about sense of humor, and if you can make your character funny to make women laugh, that is a large part of the key for sure.

    The thing is though, is that a lot of realistic lines might come of as corny on the page, when read, but that is how it works in real life, and people laugh at corny humor of others, and like it.
     
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  24. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh yeah. After all, some people are actually quite fond of your goofy nerd type. Not suggesting that's what your going for, but it's worth considering with your womanizer character than people have diverse tastes and not everyone falls into your most standard Hollywood cliches when it comes to romance. And even those that do, there's more to it.
     
  25. Cat Cherry
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    There are a lot of articles on the internet that tell you about the different kinds of moves and body language that are common indicators of flirting. For example, these are interesting: http://www.wikihow.com/Flirt, http://theweek.com/articles/448643/how-flirt-according-science, and http://www.sirc.org/publik/flirt.html.

    However, there are a few things beyond this that really successful flirts have and do. First and foremost is that they know how to make the objects of their affection feel happy, secure, confident, and excited to be with them. If the character in your mini-scene were a really effective flirt, for example, I don't think he would just tell the girl he likes that she's pretty right off the bat, because that could come off as creepy. He'd probably ask if she's okay, because she looks upset, and then try to use her response to that question as a jumping-off point.

    Second, really successful flirts enjoy the process of flirting, not just because they like the end goal of getting laid, but also because they find the act of flirting to be fun. For this reason, the James Bond type will flirt with an elderly woman as soon as he will with the young ingenue he really wants to go to bed with. Depending on the type of character, Mr. Smooth might even flirt with members of a gender he isn't really attracted to, just because he likes watching how people react when he makes them feel good about themselves, and, therefore, feel attracted to him. He should be good at assessing in a very short amount of time what makes other characters tick, and he should also know how to use those assessments to make people feel that simultaneous sense of danger and safety that is absolutely required for great sexual chemistry. If he's any good at flirting, he won't use a one-size-fits-all set of tactics, but will be able to read the individual girl he's talking to better than the average guy can in order to get the types of reactions he wants from girls. If he's really good, the girls will know exactly what he's doing, and will nevertheless love every minute of it.

    Your character can do a 180 and dump girls instantly after getting laid, but up until the point at which he has what he wants from them, he should be very, very good at making each woman feel like he can fill some part of her life that's empty. Pun intended.
     

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